Welcome to Bellz&Bunz

I guess I should start off by introducing myself, so, here I go!

I’ll keep it simple and straight forward. I promised myself when I started this blog, that i would be 100% apologetically me! I’m a no frills kind of gal with a bit of a potty mouth so pardon my french occasionally!

My name is Denise, I’m 37 and a mom of 2 boys. Jonathan who’s ( holy shit) turning 13 this year and Daniel who’s 10.  I’m married to Brad, who I will often refer to as “the hubs”. I am a full-time working mom and am currently enrolled in school part-time to become a registered nutritionist focusing on sports and nutrition.  I have been working in healthcare for the majority of my career, primarily in paediatric healthcare for the last 16 years, 10 of which I have spent as a senior manager in business operations.

I have an auto-immune disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is what sparked my passion for health and fitness.  You can read my story about living with RA in my blog called “it’s been 641 days”.

My heaviest weight I’ve ever been is 242 lbs (I’m now 135lbs).  I’ve yoyo dieted probably since I was 16yrs old, until  my diagnosis with RA 2 years ago which is when I changed my way of looking at nutrition and my health overall.  I’m a gym rat! I love lifting weights, pushing myself to do things I never thought I could, because I find the feeling of accomplishment to be so fulfilling emotionally and physically.  You will notice that I have a lot of tattoo’s. I always get asked about them. My sleeve is a picture of a woman warrior, holding a sword ready for battle, with a blossomed lotus flower. In short the meaning for me is internal strength.

So why now- why the blog?  Well, here’s the thing I learned this past year that took me my entire life to understand.  I can put myself first and not feel guilty about it. Why? because I am a better person, woman, mother,wife,  friend, daughter, when I am healthy and happy.   These past (almost) 2 years, I have made my health a priority and it has changed my entire balance in love, health, family and motherhood.   Which is what has brought me here and the desire to empower and help other women with hopes to inspire them to live the best versions of themselves. Make themselves a priority and not for one minute feel guilty about it.

My promise to you is I will keep it real, share my personal stories, my successes and my failures.  I will share my m personal workouts and fitness programs that I have done or am currency doing that don’t suck ass and will get you results.

I should mention I am a wicked cook and baker, I am actually a certified professional baker which has come in handy since we have recently moved towards a more plant based diet. Checkout my recipes and give them a try. everything I make keeps into consideration, health, nutrients and of course stuff my kids love. They are also easy and quick, because lets be honest who has time to waste!

Thank you so much for  visiting my page. I truly believe a journey is a destination and I hope to walk along side you on your path!

xo

Denise


Daily Core

I can’t stress enough how important it is to work out your core. Think of your core as the chain link between your upper and lower body. Your core brings balance and stability, so when you don’t have a strong core it actually effects your whole body. Majority of back aches are due to not having a strong enough core. When you have weak core muscles you over compensate by  using your back muscles.

Don’t neglect your core, you should focus on strengthening it daily. I add in core strengthening exercises into my daily workout routine.  Below, I have added some of my favorite core routines that I generally add at the end of every workout. They don’t take more then 10 minutes and can be done at home or at a gym.

Strengthen your core doesn’t mean you will get a six pack, that comes from nutrition.  You know the saying that “abs are made in the kitchen” well its true.  Developing a cut stomach/torso is 80% dependent on dialing into nutrition.  Also everyone’s core is different, what you want to focus on is strengthening your overall core muscles: front, back, sides, upper and lower.

I love using med balls and or kettle bells, so you will see that I use them quite a bit in all my core workout. If you are doing this workouts at home, you can 1) use nothing or 2) you can actually use a milk carton, a heavy book, anything that weights 3-5lbs ( to start) as you strengthen your core you can increase your weights.  Also dumbbells at Walmart are really cheap ( anywhere between $5-12, depending on weight)

These are my favorite core combinations. For now I’ll share 3 of them with you, but i will be sure to post more soon.

Daily Core 1: you will do 3 rounds of the exercises below. You will do each exercise for the set amount of reps. all 3 equals 1 round.  you are going to do 3 rounds with no break between exercises but with a 30-60 second break between each round.

  1. 25 Crunches ( laying on a mat or on a stability ball)
  2. 10 weighted full sit ups into standing position (holding med ball)
  3. 20 Russian Twist

Daily Core 2:  3 Rounds, no break between exercises, 30-60 seconds break between each round.

  1. 30 Mountain Climbers- 15 each leg ( for advanced,  use BOSU )
  2. 10  weighted full sit ups ( using med ball, or KB)
  3. 10 leg lifts
  4. 20 Bicycles (10 each side)

Daily Core 3: 3 Rounds, no break between exercises, 30-60 seconds break between each round.

  1. 20 Side Bends, holding a KB ( 10 each side)
  2. 20 Jack Knives
  3. 20 flutter kicks (10 each leg)
  4. 45 second plank

Never Miss Monday! Full Body Workout

Hello Mondays!!!   Mondays bring a new week, it’s our weekly reset button! So get up and move your body, feel great, eat healthy and smile.

Here’s one of my workout circuits, it’s full body workout while focusing on glutes ( my favorite thing to workout)

This workout is 3 rounds of different exercises, with a short  high impact cardio in between. every exercise below is done in 3 sets of 10 reps.

What you will need: a towel ( or gliders), a Kettle bell ( no necessary- can be done with body weight), a resistance band ( exercise can be modified and used without it), weighted ball (I use  40lbs)

My high impact cardio for this particular workout is the cycle bike. You can alternate this with sprints outside, on a treadmill, stair climber. anything you like but it needs to be fast as it will be done in short bursts

Warm up: 5 minute cycle

Round 1: 10 reps ( each leg) x3.  for this round you will be super setting between each exercise.  This means, you will do 10 of the 1st exercise, 10 of the 2nd exercise x3, with no rest between rounds.

  • Front glide lunges ( 10 each leg)
  • Lateral glide lunges ( 10 eag leg)

Cardio:  2 Minute on cycle bike ( fast)

Round 2: Alternating each exercise for 10 reps x 3 sets ( with 30 second break between each set of 10)

  • Weighted ball shoulder throw overs
  • Burpee

( you will do one shoulder throw over and go straight into a burpee, you will do this  for 10 reps to equal 1 set ( so 10 of each equals 1 set) take a 30 second break between each of your sets. ( Take longer if needed)

Cardio:  2 Minute on cycle bike ( fast)

Round 3: I do this round using a resistance band around my legs. placed just above my knees. You can do this without the resistance band. just make sure to keep your squat low and your knees shoulder width apart. Take your time with this make sure our form and posture is correct.  Keeping your knees bent, behind you toes and remember squat low.  You will do 10 reps, super setting each exercise for 3 sets.

  • Platypus walk ( 10 front walk, 10 back walk)
  • Goblet squat holding a kettle ( cna be done without the KB )

Cardio Finisher:  5 Minute on cycle bike



Pasta Pomodoro with Spinach & Zucchini

I owe all my cooking skills to my mom, she honestly is a phenomenal cook.  I started learning how to cook when I was about 7.  Whenever my mom was in the kitchen I was always there and I remember the first time she actually made me cook with her hands on because before she always told me “con la cottura si impara guadando” meaning “with cooking you learn by watching first”  My mom made everything from scratch, nothing was ever store bought, from fresh pasta, to sauces, to fresh bread- she made it all by hand.  The things I have learned from my mom are priceless, something I will forever hold near and dear to my heart and hope that I can pass on all that I have learned from her to my boys and their families (one day)

One thing she taught me was that any good sauce if made with fresh ingredients should take no more than 30 minutes.  I think that’s why I generally can whip up dinner in under 30 minutes.  She taught me to be creative with what we have, and to be honest I find I come up with some of the best dinners that way.

I think I’ve said this before, my kids love their Italian food and of course who doesn’t like pasta.  This is one of my boys favorite  and I load it with their 2 favorite vegetables. It’s quick and easy and trust me you and your family will love it!

Ingredients:

1 jar of Passatta ( Crushed tomato)

2 cups chopped spinach

1 large Zuchiini (grated)

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

salt and pepper to taste

fresh basil and parsley

1/2 cup water

Directions:

  1. In a sauce pan, saute onions, garlic and grated zucchini for a few minutes.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, water, salt, pepper and fresh herbs.  Bring to a boil then lower heat to a light simmer.
  3. Simmer for 10-12 minutes ( uncovered). Add Spinach and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Serve with your favorite pasta.

( This makes enough sauce to serve with 1 pack ( 450g) of pasta)

 


          

Curry Coconut Lentil Soup

Curry plus coconut is a match made in heaven. Seriously, the combination of the two pretty much makes everything tastes good.  As you have probably figured out, I’m Italian, and traditionally our lentil soup ( from the part of Italy I am from) is made with swiss chard and potatoes, with a tomato base. Don’t get me wrong, I am still trying to master my moms lentil soup, but I used the basics of how my mom makes it and kicked it up a notch.  Initially I was worried my little one wouldn’t like it. He’s 10 and isn’t the easiest to please when it comes to introducing new flavors, he loves his Italian foods, what can I say! LOL.  BUT…this was a hit.  As much as I try to teach my kids to try different things, I also choose my battles, so when I’m creating new recipes, I 100% keep my boys favorite foods in mind and go from there. It really just makes my life easier. They both love lentils, but my 10 year old hates potatoes, but loves carrots- which is why I used sweet potatoes ( he can’t tell the difference between the sweet potato and a carrot, I know he’s 10, but lets just continue this way until he figures it out).  They also both love spinach versus swiss chard and I took a shot at seeing if they would like the curry and coconut flavors.  You can add more curry if you like, but the recipe below is a subtle hint and the coconut just made it creamy with a bit of sweetness that compliments the light heat of the curry.  I think that’s why it was such a hit. Flavorful but not overpowering.

If you try any of my recipes, i would love your feedback!   Enjoy!

serves 6

Ingredients:

1 large Zucchini ( diced)

1 small sweet potato ( diced)

1 cup white mushrooms ( diced)

1 small onion ( finely chopped)

1 clove of garlic (minced)

2-3 cups spinach

1 can diced tomatoes ( sodium free)

1/2 cup dry lentils

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

3 leaves fresh basil (chopped)

1 liter vegetable broth

1 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp yellow curry powder

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash and chop all veggies to desired size, set aside.
  2. In a pot, saute onions and garlic with olive oil, until the onions begin to sweat.  Add zucchini, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and curry powder and tomatoes. Saute for a few minutes
  3. Add broth, lentils, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then lower heath to low/medium to a steady simmer. Simmer for 40 minutes until lentils are almost cooked.
  4. add coconut milk, fresh herbs spinach and simmer for another 5 minutes

Serve and Enjoy!


Asian Flare Rice Bowl

Jasmine rice is my boys favorite type of rice, but seriously can you blame them? it needs so little added ingredients to make it taste good.

This is my first year having a garden, and its full of my favorite fresh herbs, which is what inspired me to make this dish.  Fresh basil and jasmine rice go hand in hand, it’s a perfect partnership!

Ingredients:

Rice: 1.5 cups of cooked organic jasmine rice. I boil mine plain- with no salt or oil.  Fresh basil ( about 2 leaves), fresh parsley ( about 1/2 cup chopped), zest of 1 lemon, 1 glove of garlic chopped, salt & pepper to taste, 1 tsbp olive oil

Vegetable stir fry:  2 heads of broccoli. cut washed and blanched. 2 carrots, peeled and chopped, 2 celery stalks, chopped, 1 large zucchini chopped, 1 yellow pepper chopped, 2  gloves of garlic- finely chopped, fresh parsley , fresh basil and 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger, 1 tsbp olive oil

Chick Peas: 2 cups cooked chick peas, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp red curry powder

Directions:

Rice; Saute fresh garlic with olive oil, add cooked rice and stir fry for about 1 minute. add fresh herbs, salt, pepper and lemon zest, stir fry for another minute.

Veggies: saute all veggies with 1 tbsp of olive oil and garlic, add fresh herbs and ginger. Stir fry until desired consistency

Chick peas: heat 1 tsbp of olive oil with 1 tbsp red curry on medium heat, toast for about 45 seconds.. Add cooked chick peas and stir.  Place in lined baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes

combine all 3 into a bowl and enjoy!

 


Green Smoothie Bowl

This makes the perfect post workout breakfast!  I’ve been trying to incorporate more raw meals into my daily nutrition and it seems like this whole breakfast smoothie thing is a ‘thing” right now, so i gave it a shot, with whatever I had in my fridge and viola…my super yummy green smoothie bowl. for sure making this on repeat!

Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh kale-chopped

1/4 of fresh banana ( or frozen)

1/4 cup frozen mango ( or fresh)

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 of an avocado

ice

1 tbsp of natural peanut butter

Toppings:

2 tbsp Coconut Yogurt

1 cup fresh berries

1tsp hemp seeds

1 tbsp raw walnuts

Directions:

In a blender add all ingredients and blend until desired consistency.  Poor into bowl and top with  coconut yogurt, fresh fruit, seeds and nuts.

super easy right?  I know!!!!